As in any process, the laws of nature are at work in the continuous casting of metals. Heat spills down temperature gradients under the watchful eye of Fourier, while molten metal moves in response to inertial and body forces governed by the Navier-Stokes equations. Tensile strains develop in the solidifying shell subject to changing cooling conditions, the constitutive behavior of the metal, compatibility, and the Prandtl-Reuss relations. Solutes segregate as thermodynamics compete with diffusion to create a heterogeneous solid from a homogeneous liquid. The challenge to the process engineer is to harness these laws to continuously cast a metal section that is free of cracks, has minimal macrosegregation, and has the desired shape. Confronted with the demands of production, cost containment, and an educationally challenged workforce, the obstacles are very real. One response to the challenge is to move knowledge to the shop floor, where wealth is created, through expert systems to educate the workforce and through artificial intelligence to make the continuous casting process “smart.” Harnessing knowledge for wealth creation, and profitability, is the real challenge.
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